15 year old son - friend died, now he sees no point in life

mommabirdJuly 9, 2012

My son is 15. This week a terrible tragedy happened in our community, where 3 kids were at a home alone, with no adults, during the day. One of the them got out his grandfather's gun. Thinking it was unloaded, he pointed it at another kid and said "bang" and pulled the trigger. The gun was loaded, and the kid is dead. The third kid had this happen right in front of her.

My son is friends will all three of these other kids. He is so angry that loaded gun was left unlocked. He's a Boy Scout, so he has shot guns and earned two gun related merit badges. He knows to treat all guns as loaded guns. He's angry that other people don't teach their kids how guns work, that they don't leave their guns in a gun safe, that his friends who were smart, good kids did this thoughtless act.

I took him to the candle light vigil last weekend, and we're attending the memorial service tomorrow night. He says he's not as upset about the boy who died because he's in Paradise. He's upset about the boy who has to live his whole life knowing he killed his best friend (he has not been charged with any crime) and he's upset the other kid has to live with what she saw happen. He's upset for all the families involved.

All the kids in the community are just in shock right now. 100s attended the candle light vigil. He and he friends want to reach out to the by who accidently shot the gun, but that boy has retreated from the world, deactivated his Facebook, won't come out in public, won't answer texts or calls.

I wish there was more I could do for my son and his friends. I tell him I'm here to listen and do listen when he wants to talk. Today he told me he doesn't see any point in living in a world where you could be dead any day. That scared me because it seems like a vague suicide threat.

He already sees a therapist for issues relating to mine and his dad's divorce. The therapist only gives appointments twice a month, for an hour each. I've tried to call around to other therapists but they all seem so booked up in my area - none have any better availability.

Other than continuing therapy and being there to listen, what else can I do? Do any of you have ideas?

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First of all, don't give up on the therapy--this is what many would consider an emergency, so DO NOT let the therapists put you off. Call your local children's hospital for a referral or, if need be, call the suicide hotline for advice. Yes, the threat is vague, but you're absolutely right that it needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later.

Beyond that, try to get your son interested in doing something to make a difference. Maybe he could initiate gun safety talks for younger children, or perhaps there's some way he could volunteer with the police. Brainstorm with him to try to find something he (and perhaps the other 2 children involved) could do to make the world a better place now. Even if it's just getting a playground or Angel Garden installed in the local playground in memory of their friend.

The more you can get him involved in making a difference, the more worthwhile life will seem to him. My nephew was similarly depressed when, in high school, he saw his best friend fall through the ice and die. There was a bridge keeper right above where the accident happened, but he had no emergency equipment available (it would have made a difference). I suggested to my Dsis that nephew see if he could raise money to get the equipment so nothing like this ever happened again. They went to the mayor/counsel, and THEY agreed that it was necessary and provided the emergency things for the bridge. My nephew was the catalyst and was able to feel that at least he helped stop this from happening again, hopefully. I reallly think, getting your son involved in something that makes a difference is the way to go here. Might take a little encouraging, maybe even a little subterfuge (you might present it that YOU want to start some sort of memorial effort, and see if it doesn't encourage him to get involved, rather than pushing the idea at him when he may not be quite ready for it yet).

Very sad story--my condolences to all who have been affected.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:30PM
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I'm so sorry this happened, to your son, the community, and especially to his friends and their families.

Perhaps you could take him to his pediatrician? Your pediatrician might be willing to make a phone call to a therapist who would work your son in. I know in the past my children's pediatricians have been able to get one of my children an appointment with a specialist faster than I was able to on my own.

Azzalea's suggestions to call a hotline and get involved in some type of outreach are good ones.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:50PM
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Thank you. These are good ideas. I will call our family doctor tomorrow and see if he can refer us to a therpist with a more open schedule.

The family of the boy who pulled the trigger has established a fund in memory of the boy who died, to educate children about gun safety. That's a great idea to try to get my son involved in raising money for the fund. He could even teach other kids gun safety. I also thought about something to raise money for gun safes.

My brother owns guns and takes safety seriously. He teaches classes at a shooting range. He also keeps all his guns locked in a gun safe. Maybe there's something my son and his uncle could do together in the boy who was shot's memory.

Thank you. Our community is still in shock and morning. It has cast a cloud over the summer for these kids.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Thanks for coming back and filling us in--hope you are able to get some help for your son. Do let us know how he's doing. It's definitely a terrible tragedy, but those left behind need to find the strength to go on, and the hope that life will one day be good for them again.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 5:05PM
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